Two weeks in quarantine allowed Sam Cane ample time to reflect on a season he describes as the toughest of his career. Come next year, the All Blacks captain hopes the notes he jotted down in isolation, and the edge he intends to create week-to-week, will bridge the gap between the team's best and worst performances.
Cane claimed the All Blacks player of the year and overall Kelvin R Tremain trophies at the New Zealand Rugby awards on Thursday night, edging Aaron Smith and Dane Coles to the honours.
But for all Cane's personal consistency, 2020 did not go to plan.
One of the few upsides of quarantine is the seemingly endless hours locked in a room could be used to gather thoughts on a season like no other.
"I've probably done more reflection than I ever have and that coincided where it needed a fair bit of that," Cane said as he looked forward to a summer break.
Cane's challenges began before his maiden campaign as All Blacks skipper while leading the Chiefs through their annus horribilis that was eight straight losses in Super Rugby Aotearoa under Warren Gatland.
"We had a really tough run – it was the toughest I've had as a rugby player. To be captaining the side I learnt so much about what's important to focus on and what's not."
Once the uncertainty of the test calendar eventually subsided the All Blacks' rocky six-test campaign presented a fresh batch of trials.
While locking away the Bledisloe Cup and Tri Nations trophies keeps the cabinet well stocked, returning home from Australia with a 50 per cent win record fell well short of expectations.
"We were all grateful to be playing test matches. We didn't have to look far to see the chaos in the rest of the world.
"It was a real rollercoaster in terms of some of the performances. There were a couple that were very good and a couple that were very poor. That's not what we expect from an All Blacks side and it's not the expectations we put on ourselves to deliver.
"On reflection, I'm never going to say it's disappointing because from those tough times we've learnt a lot as a group and, jeez, I'd rather have a few lessons in these early days than when it comes to the big one.
"To be able to sit in quarantine and jot a lot these notes down and chat with people over zooms it helped solidify some of those lessons."
Losing successive tests for the first time in nine years, which included the first defeat against the Pumas, amplified intense scrutiny on All Blacks coach Ian Foster and Cane, who admits the all-encompassing demands of captaincy caught him somewhat off-guard.
"I probably underestimated the intensity of the role. I've done it three times in the past for a week but the ability to be on every single week, driving the team… I've been in the leadership group for a wee while but I've probably never appreciated what the captain was going through until you've got that armband fulltime.
"Everything we had to experience and went through there was never a day where I was thinking 'I don't want to be doing this'. I enjoyed the challenge and I enjoyed the rugby year we had.
"If I was sitting there thinking 'I can't wait for this season to end' it would be a bit of a worry."
The main adjustment Cane intends to drive next year is attempting to strike the sweet spot balance between a welcoming team culture that enables rookies to connect with the team and carry their Super form into the black jersey, and cultivating the mental resolve to perform no matter the circumstance or opposition.
"We see so many of our young players come in and perform well in the black jersey. The other side of that is probably a bit more of the old school mentality about earning your stripes and with that comes a little bit of edge.
"You get that balance between feeling comfortable versus having that bit of edge every week like we do when we come off a performance we're not proud of.
"We're seeing the margins between a good or average performance are so small and it's not one thing it's lots of little things. Some of those little things can be throughout the week. Clearly sometimes we weren't where we needed to be come kickoff."
Assuming the captaincy responsibility clearly fueled something within Cane this season – his crunching hits and carries a consistent theme of an inconsistent test year.
The next step is ensuring the All Blacks replicate his efforts in 2021 and beyond.
"Something clicked and absolutely as a captain or a leader in a team it's important you're one of the best players on the field so I'm proud of what I managed to put out there this year but hopefully it's just a start."